Bird hunters typically think the only good bird is a dead one.

It is shameful that some lawmakers in Wisconsin share that mentality and are planning to meet
in July to lead a Legislative Council Study Committee that will weigh options for hunting sandhill
cranes under the guise of managing them.

The committee will be chaired by Rep. Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc), who introduced a bill to permit
shooting sandhill cranes for sport in 2021; similar legislation was proposed by Tittl and other
pro-hunting lawmakers this past session but failed, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Nearly hunted to extinction more than a century ago until the Migratory Bird Protection Act of
1918 offered them a reprieve, the sandhill crane has rebounded substantially in recent years,
with more than 800,000 cranes residing in six distinct populations in North America.

Sadly, 17 U.S. states allow the hunting of sandhill cranes, with a key exception being the
crucial stopover state of Nebraska, which has come to value migrating cranes as a major
tourist draw and has resisted the dying hunting industry’s pressure.

In Wisconsin, the sandhill crane population was reduced to only about 15 breeding pairs in the
1930s; today the state is the temporary home to nearly 95,000 of the long-legged wetland bird,
prized not only for its crimson crest and courtly mating dance but also its ability to spread seeds
to create habitat for many types of semi-aquatic species.

Native to North America and a sliver of Siberia, sandhill cranes can weigh up to 11 pounds and
stand nearly 4 feet tall. Living for as many as 30 years in the wild, they mate for life though will
seek out a new partner if the mate dies. Their reproduction rate is low. Young cranes stick close
to their parents for 9 or 10 months after hatching.

Already about 1,000 sandhill cranes are killed each year by some 200 Wisconsin farmers issued
federal depredation permits by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Wildlife
Services. The farmers are upset that cranes eat corn seed in the spring and beans in the fall,
causing about $1 million in crop damage statewide, according the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. Abetted by the “shoot anything that moves” hunting lobby, some of these farmers
and their legislative allies are seeking a 60-day hunting season of sandhill cranes in the fall for
as many as 5,100 permitted hunters.

Fewer than one in five Wisconsinites support a sandhill crane hunting season in the state,
according to a study conducted by the UW Survey Center. FoA calls on its Wisconsin members
to contact their assemblymembers and senators to urge them to block the killing of sandhill
cranes and to find non-lethal solutions for any crane-caused crop damage. You can find your
legislators by typing your address in the search bar on this

“Again and again, we see a ‘shoot first’ mentality by those who only see these magnificent birds
as another bird for the bag,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.